Rare Book & Manuscript Library Premieres Its Fall Exhibition, Columbia’s Cornerstone: The Core Curriculum

NEW YORK, October 10, 2003 As part of Columbia University’s celebration of its 250th anniversary, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library will open its fall 2003 exhibition, Columbia’s Cornerstone: The Core Curriculum, on Sunday, October 19, to a gathering of the Friends of the Columbia Libraries. The exhibition, highlighting significant books, manuscripts, and objects relating to Columbia’s core curriculum, will be on view through December 5, 2003.

The exhibition charts the development of the core curriculum, taught to all undergraduates at the university, from its inception in 1919 to the present, and showcases a selection of materials held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the areas of literature, philosophy, history, music, art, science, and the social sciences. Included in the exhibition are the papers of John Jacob Coss, a member of the original committee that drafted the curriculum syllabus; a papyrus fragment of Homer dating from the 1st century B.C.E.; and a manuscript portion of the Quran, written and illuminated in 1259.

Jean Ashton, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, in welcoming the community to the exhibition said, “The exhibition provides an interesting exposure to the arguments and debates that lead to the establishment of the core and displays original print and first editions of texts used by Columbia students for several generations.” In addition to letters, memorandums, and committee notes about the establishment of the core, the exhibition will display a copy of Homer owned by Martin Luther, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776), Frank Lloyd Wright’s essay “The Art and Craft of the Machine” (1901), Puccini’s signature with musical notation on a visiting card (1904), and a letter of agreement signed in 1963 by Malcolm X and Alex Haley for the Autobiography of Malcolm X.

The Core Curriculum exhibition will be open to the public on Sunday, October 19, 2003, from 1:30 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located on the sixth floor of Butler Library. In addition, the exhibition will be on view during the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s regular hours: Monday, 12:00 P.M. to 7:45 P.M, and Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 4:45 P.M.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 600,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 26 million manuscripts in nearly 2,600 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rmbl/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services. For additional information about the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

10/10/03 JD